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An Emotional Game Ahead for Several Bolts


Football is an emotional game; some weeks more so than others.

That's the case for several Chargers this Sunday in Seattle as they return to a place in which they established themselves as some of the top talent in the National Football League.

Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley etched his place as one of the top coaching minds in the NFL during a four-year stint with the Seahawks from 2009-2012.

Russell Okung was drafted by the Seahawks with the sixth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, and he earned Pro Bowl honors and captured a Super Bowl title over six memorable seasons.

Brandon Mebane also won a ring with Seattle. Overall, he played eight seasons for the team after being selected in the third round (85th overall) in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Bradley has coached one time at CenturyLink Field since leaving, while this will mark Okung and Mebane's first trip back.

As you may expect, Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll had a lot to say this week about his connection to each man.

Regarding Bradley, he stressed how impressive the defense has been after taking on the identity of his good friend.

"Gus is a great leader," he said. "Great personality. Great attitude. (An) inspirational, motivational type of guy, and you can see it (with how they're playing). They're playing really (well). They're really sharp. They're disciplined. Their effort is really good. All of that, that's what Gus is all about. I think he's all over it."

Carroll also couldn't help but rave about Okung and Mebane, two players who were crucial to the team's success for so long.

"Those guys were right in the middle of all of it," he said. "They were really consistent, high level performers. Good personalities on the team. Everybody loves Brandon. He was just really a unique player and all that. He was here before we got here so, he was kind of one of the old guys (who) really took to it with our style. Russell was always a really upbeat and active guy. A real communicator. These guys, they were great Seahawks when they were here."

Of course, that will all change this weekend at CenturyLink Field.

While Okung has fond memories of his six memorable seasons with the Seahawks, it's all business when Sunday rolls around.

"It's not as euphoric as I thought it would be," the left tackle said. "It definitely feels like more of a challenge overall for the team. I know it's a hostile environment. I know how loud the fans are and the enthusiasm they have for the Seahawks. I still see it when I go back to the city. Seattle is a city I love, and a place I still have a home. But that doesn't mean much this weekend. That time in Seattle was special, but we're building new things here. We're trying to do something nobody has ever done before. That's what really gets me excited for Sunday."

Mebane offered a similar response.

"It probably will be (weird)," he said. "But I think I'm used to (being a Charger now). Now, if you would have said that my first (season here) I would have probably been like, yeah. But now it's like I've forgotten about it. It's in the past. Like, I played there? Wow. I forgot about it… (But) it's an environment where I think the players, defense and offense, definitely feed off the crowd. When I was there, there were times where I think we made a lot of plays just because of the crowd, the environment."

Bradley also agreed with that sentiment, talking about how he had a great run up there but the focus is solely on getting a win.

That being said, he opened up about the impact Carroll had on him during those years, explaining how he wouldn't be the coach, or man, he is today without him.

"He's had tremendous impact on me as a coach," Bradley said. "I think he's very analytical as far as studying tape, watching tape and trying to see how to affect different offenses. And his attitude and the way he works day after day, his energy level, I think is something that when you're with him for four years like I was, and you saw it day after day, it's pretty impressive."

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